US probably to deploy intermediate-range missiles to Asia

Posted Aug 5, 2019 by Ken Hanly
The US is taking advantage of the fact that it has withdrawn from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) by planning to put some intermediate-range weapons in Asia
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke to the press on his first day as Pentagon chief
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke to the press on his first day as Pentagon chief
Alastair Pike, AFP
The US Defense Secretary's announcement
Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper told reporters that he is very interested in deploying some intermediate-range missiles in Asia in the coming months when asked if he was considering putting some there: "Yes, I would like to. I would prefer [in] months, I just don't have the latest state of play on timelines for either a cruise missile or long-range missile ... but these things tend to take longer than you expect.""
Esper admitted that he had no specific timetable for deploying the missiles. The Pentagon is moving to develop post-INF missiles but perhaps older designs made before the 1987 treaty will be used just to get more nukes into Asia quicker.
China will object to the deployment
Reporters pointed out that China will object to any deployment of the missiles. However, Esper did not see the move as leading to an arms race and even claimed that the deployment would "deter China". Esper said: ""I don't see an arms race happening, I do see us taking proactive measures to develop a capability that we need for both the European theater and certainly this theater,” Esper said, referring to the Asia-Pacific region."
Target of the deployment is China
The alleged reason that the US withdrew from the treaty is the claim that Russia violated it. Russia denies it had violated the treaty. The two countries were signatories to the treaty. However, the US is keen to begin producing weapons that would have been banned by the INF. The US is particularly keen to use such weapons to target China. China was never a party to the deal so it already has a substantial arsenal of intermediate-range missiles.
The deployment may be a long time coming. A recent article notes: "On Friday, senior U.S. officials said that any deployment of such weaponry would be years away. Within the next few weeks, the United States is expected to test a ground-launched cruise missile, and in November, the Pentagon will aim to test an intermediate-range ballistic missile. Both would be tests of conventional weapons - and not nuclear."